Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cover Reveal: Broken Shadows by Tarek Refaat

Title: Broken Shadows

Author: Tarek Refaat

Release Date: April 8, 2016

Publisher: Red Sands Publishing

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Suspense, International

Book Description:

Broken hearts and dark shadows, will love ever find its way back to them?

Fifteen years ago, Heidi Aasar fled the country, hoping to make sense of the chaos that surrounded her. A burned ex-operative, she refuses to continue hiding in the shadows. She now has the chance to right the wrongs of her dark past. Determined to find a way to redeem herself, she must first fix the loose threads she left behind so long ago.
A successful business owner, Nadim Mohamed Sharaf has done his best to move on after his heart was broken fifteen years ago. In his mind, he has everything he could ever want or need at his fingertips. Until the moment Heidi makes a sudden reappearance in his life. It’s then everything around him changes.

A chain reaction of events soon turns Nadim and Heidi’s lives upside-down. Forced to confront the turmoil brewing between them, they must put aside their differences if they are to survive another day. The choices they’ll have to make will define the outcome of the lives they lead.

Will they be able to overcome their painful and chaotic past? Or will the pain and heartache consume them in the long run?

(Purchase links are not yet available.)


AFTER A LONG DAY AT WORK, Nadim stood in his office, observing Cairo from the seventeen stories high window. The streets below were crowded. He could see the people rushing to get back to their homes, eager for a little respite from a hard day’s work.
Cabs pulled up to the curb along the two-way street to pick up clients and those eager to get away from the ensuing chaos. People scurried about like rats trapped inside a maze. Some greeted others in a timely fashion, while others grew surly and shouted obscenities.
Nadim smirked and shook his head. He was used to this scene spreading out before him. It wouldn’t be long until he joined the ‘rats’ trapped in their own chaotic mazes. The thought of making his way home appealed to him.
His mind wandered, trapping him in another maze. A maze that took him back fifteen years. One that brought back memories he’d spent a lifetime trying to avoid. Memories he wished he could forget, once and for all.
Nadim thought he’d forgotten all about her, the one woman who’d broken his heart. She’d meant everything to him. He would have given her the world if she’d asked him to.
During his high school days, he’d been known as a playboy. A sweet-talker who’d gotten exactly what he’d wanted. Charming and attentive, every girl in school came to him for advice about guys. Most of them ended up hooking up with him.
He’d experienced the same throughout college and work until he’d met her. Beautiful and brazen, she’d wrapped him around her finger. She’d drawn him in like a moth to flame, inciting his baser desires. In the end, she’d played him like a smooth violin, cutting its strings with a scalpel so that it made no noise, whatsoever.
Nadim growled with annoyance. He never thought he’d ever see her again. After fifteen years, the bane of his existence had popped up in his life once more. Heidi had recently dropped by his office for an interview.


Tarek Refaat is an Egyptian author born in October 1980. He comes from a family that has diverse cultural roots, and has spent most of his adulthood between Saudi and Egypt, until finally settling in Egypt.

Tarek is an avid reader of history, and has been into writing since a very young age. He loves to describe the thoughts and feelings he’s experienced through words. He has written poetry and prose, and decided as of 2009 to move forward into stories and novels.

Tarek has previously been published, and has also self-published. He views writing as his aim to reach as many people through his thoughts, and provoke positive and hopeful energy through his stories.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016


He sat on a chair facing the wall with his hands tied behind his back. He was starting to feel tired and his wrists were causing him discomfort. He was hoping this would end soon, but from the bits of conversation that were reaching him from the room next door, it appeared he would have to do a bit more waiting till he would be set free.

He stared at the wall in front of him, looking at the scribbling and drawings spread over a large part of it.  Thoughts of his little daughter filled his head. She loved to draw and paint and had the artistic spark…just like her father. How he loved his little princess…and to think that he never wanted to have children. For him, children had always been synonymous with disruption, chaos and a complete absence of peace and quiet. His experience with his six nephews and nieces was proof enough to him.  He couldn't bear the mess and noise they caused, being always impossible for him to paint, or read, or listen to his music when they were around. He felt besieged by their endless nagging, and their never-ending desire to play, to question, and to argue. Living with children day in and day out was to him an unbearable feat, something he felt he would never be capable of doing. In fact, he was amazed at how both his sisters' managed to cope with their kids, never failing to show love and affection despite the obvious fatigue and bouts of  frustration they occasionally went through. 

And so it was that he constantly declared his unwavering refusal to father any children of his own. He declared this to his family, to his friends, to his art students, to his colleagues and to his girl friend who later on became his wife.  But fate had other plans; one day he found himself standing in a hospital room by his wife's bedside, looking in bewilderment and complete disbelief at a tiny little baby girl… his newborn daughter.

His neck was beginning to stiffen and he could feel a growing numbness in his right arm. He was wondering how long this situation would last and when he would be set free. He had left so many things still undone: work to be completed, lectures to be prepared, designs to be delivered, an unfinished painting, but most important of all he was preparing the necessary papers for registering his little girl in school…in KG1... when this hostage situation began.

He couldn't believe his little one would already be starting school. After she was born he was surprised at how infatuated he had become with this fragile little creature, how amazed he was at this miracle of creation, and how inspired he became by her coming into his life. Day by day his love for her grew as he saw the magic of life unfold in her first smile, her first words, her first awkward steps…she was like a work of art, created and re-created day after day, evolving and maturing as the brush of time added, altered and transformed…she was the same but always new, familiar but with never-ending novelty. 

It is true that at times she got on his nerves, distracted him for his work, and upset his busy schedule. But he was amazed how he came to see so much beauty and inspiration in her mischief and naughtiness, in her endless desire to play, to argue, and to question.  He sometimes had to scold and yell if she went too far …but at the end he gave in…he always gave in, for he knew all too well that it was she who held his heart and soul in the palm of her little hand.

He heard voices approaching him…it seemed the moment of his liberation was near.
"You're free to go prisoner….we've agreed on the ransom", he heard a voice say.
And sure enough he felt someone unknot the rope binding his hands.
He stood up, shaking his numb arm and his weary wrists. He turned round and stared at his captors….
"And what is the ransom may I ask", he asked in a stern voice.
"Ice-cream, ice-cream, ice-cream!!" shouted the four little captors as his daughter jumped into his arms.
He laughed as he held his little angel in his arms while her three young friends looked on, waiting eagerly for their promised ransom.
"I'll get you the ice-cream sweet heart, but promise me that this is the last game we play today…Daddy has a lot to do."
"Yes Daddy", she replied with a giggle as she smudged a wet kiss on his cheek.
"I promise, I promise…but tomorrow we'll play some more…pleeeease".  
"Daddy has work to do sweetie", he replied as he looked into her imploring brown eyes, "but…well…we'll see".

How he adored his little angel, how he loved to feel her tiny little fingers locked behind his neck as she hugged her Daddy; and he knew all to well that no matter how hard he tried to deny it, no matter how many times she set him free, he would forever…and ever…remain her hostage.  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Henna Night

t was a hot humid August night as she stepped out of her car and headed towards the hotel's main entrance. As she walked the short distance, she could feel trickles of sweat snaking down her back. Her long sleeved dark blue suit felt more like a sauna outfit, making her sweat profusely.  She had wanted to wear one of her light silk dresses, but had thought otherwise.  This was her first time to attend a Henna Night. Her travels and busy academic career had left her little time for socializing or attending weddings or what not. But the youngest daughter of her beloved Aunt was finally getting married and she promised to be there, even on her Henna Night, a fun and joyous all female event prior to the wedding itself. She knew that the family of her young cousin's groom was deeply religious, most of its women wearing full-face veils.  She didn't want to cause her aunt or her young cousin any undue embarrassment. So it had to be the formal long sleeved blue suit.

She thanked God for her decision as she entered the small ballroom. Her eyes were met by a sea of black on the groom's family side, with most of the women not only wearing full-face veils, but also donning the ultra-conservative black colours. She went to sit on her family's relatively more colourful side, although the majority wore the veil and dressed conservatively. She could not help feeling somewhat uncomfortable with her conspicuous curly long hair, like a bushy palm tree in the midst of a black desert. She could almost swear that she sensed the piercing eyes of those who stared at her with disapproval from behind their black veils.  Maybe she should have brought a scarf along she thought to herself. However, she brushed her worries aside. She was intent on enjoying the night regardless of anything. And indeed, a sense of warmth filled the ballroom as quiet conversations picked up and the smell of delicious food enticed appetites as the waiters brought in plates of food and pastries into the buffet.

Not long after she arrived however, she noted how the ballroom doors had been closed shut and all the male waiters had gone leaving only female waiters. Many of the guests had disappeared, while a female DJ appeared on the scene. Feeling a bit curious, she asked a relative where everybody had gone.  "Well…to change of course" came the matter-of-fact answer.  Just as she was going to ask a perplexed "Why?" she realized what was happening.  Young women and girls began to reappear, starkly transformed. They were wearing silk, satin and chiffon dresses, some short and strapless with embroidered bodices, others in sexy one shoulder long ones, and still others in tight black lace dresses.  The ballroom suddenly blossomed into a sea of colours, with a bewildering variety of hairstyles, heavy makeup and a strong scent of perfume.

She sat at her table, open mouthed and aghast at this sudden metamorphosis. Music blared loudly as the female DJ went into action. Bodies, who just a while ago had sat discreetly at their tables, now swayed seductively to its deafening beat.  Beautiful girls moved from one table to another some in low cut dresses revealing their cleavages. Bare ivory-white shoulders, necks, and arms, untanned or unblemished by the sun, dotted the ballroom like a string of pearls that had broken loose from the confines of their necklace and rolled out onto the ball room floor.

The veils of older women seated at the tables had all disappeared and instead were rows of mostly bare pale shoulders and dyed blond hair of all styles and lengths, like a field of golden mushrooms that had suddenly sprouted up from the ground.

Loud voices and pitched laughter filled the air as inhibitions were shed away and bodies liberated. She could sense the excitement, the wild merriment that swept throughout the ballroom and reverberated in its walls.  Young and older women began to assemble on the dance floor, the bride in their middle, singing, shaking and dancing along with the DJ's music.

She sat there for a moment contemplating the scene, her overly academic and scientific mind observing, registering and analyzing. But before she could arrive at any profound observations or grand theories, a young cousin grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into the dance floor. "Come on…join the fun!” she screamed at her.

 And so there she was, feeling somewhat awkward in her long sleeved formal suit among the lightly clad writhing bodies, standing out like a stiff blue mast in a wild sea of pink, olive and white flesh. She joined in the clapping, keeping rhythm with the beat of the music. However, it wasn't long before she too began moving her body, getting caught up in the fervor and ecstasy of the crowd, shedding any sign of her usually reserved demeanor. Hands swayed in the air, hips moved up and down, and legs stomped to the music. It was intoxicating, exhilarating, liberating. For some reason, fleeting images of ancient women's rituals and fertility dances that she had often researched and studied crossed her mind.

However, she began feeling somewhat dizzy and unfocused. Her heavy blue suit was suffocating her, trapping her, heating up her body.  Sweat trickled down her forehead into her eyes, clouding her vision, while her head throbbed with the pounding of the music, feeling like a pressure cooker waiting to burst. She thought for a moment of taking off her jacket but she had nothing underneath but her bras…what a scandal that would be …or would it?

Screaming laughter pierced her ears as she felt herself pressed against bodies moving and turning in ecstatic motion. She tried to stumble her way back to her table, but her limp body could hardly move through the crowds as she bumped into voluptuous breasts and bobbing buttocks. She began panicking, gasping for breath and feeling her legs giving way underneath her. She tried to call out, but could hardly hear her own voice.

Suddenly the music seemed to fade away, the laughter and voices drowning out, the strong lights and writhing bodies disappearing, giving way to a calm and silent darkness as she slowly slipped, stumbled and fell to the ground…all in the heat of the Henna Night.


Monday, June 22, 2015


The pillow felt so soft. I was feeling so tired and longing for the moment when I could rest my head on it, close my eyes and shut out the entire world.  I could smell the soft sweet fragrance of the pillow cover.  The sheets had been changed that day and it felt clean, crisp and fresh.  I always take the same pillow wherever I travel, otherwise I simply cannot sleep.  It is strange how small little things, how simple details of life can make such a big difference.  They can be a cause of great joy…or the source of immense misery!  I remember going to a conference once and not being able to sleep all night because the pillow was too big and hard for my liking. On another occasion, the pillow had an unpleasant aroma and I just couldn’t stand it.  After that, wherever I went, my pillow went as well. 

I used to do a lot of travelling and having to take a pillow along could be a source of considerable inconvenience, especially when taking trains. However, luckily, I’m the kind of person that prefers low pillows and so mine is easily folded into a suitcase. 

Somehow, it has become a friend, a close companion, a silent bedfellow. Can objects be that? Well pillows can definitely be that.  It has shared with me innumerable nights, being there when I’m restless and unable to sleep, tossing and turning until I doze off in the wee hours of the morning.  It has soaked in my tears on countless nights, when I was heartbroken, or when a loved one passed away, or when I was feeling miserable for some reason or other.  It kept me comfort on my travels as I relaxed my back against it while going over documents on my laptop, or reading a novel to relax my mind from the days exhausting work.
My pillow knows all my secrets, my deepest feelings, the darkest corners of my soul.  It has been a silent witness to my amorous encounters, sharing my sweet passionate moments, lying quietly under my head as bodies embrace in a fiery dance of love. It has also witnessed my moments of rage…of extreme jealousy…of mad desire to take revenge…to be cruel…to inflict hurting and pain….

I move my hand over my pillow, feeling its familiar contours.  I love its softness, its touch, its shape. My body, mind and soul feel relaxed as I lie for a few moments, feeling safe and secure as it gently and lovingly holds my head.  I am relieved that they allowed me to bring it here. It is the only thing that reminds me of my home, of my life, of myself.  When I hug it tightly, all the beautiful memories and moments of my life come alive and I can simply close my eyes and pretend I am not here, not in prison, not sentenced to the rest of my years behind bars.  It makes me feel that a part of my life is still safe and secure, that some things don’t change, even if everything else does.

The lights turn off as I hear the cringing of the prison doors shutting close. I curl up with my pillow like a snail curls up in its protective shell.  As deep darkness surrounds me, I shut my eyes and cling to my soft cushion as if clinging to life itself. 

In the looming silence of my prison cell, I hear only the echoes of my heart...I see only the imaginings of my dreams…I feel only that familiar I lie here…silently…with my pillow.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

ابتسامة منى

أتذكر ذلك اليوم جيداً حينما قابلتها لأول مرة...كان ذلك في شتاء عام 2010 عندما جاءت لزيارتنا في منزلنا الريفي.  منى...فتاة عشرينية تميل إلى الإمتلاء، ترتدي قبعة زرقاء فوق وجه مستدير بشوش يفيض بالبهجة والمرح. كان هذا أول لقاء لي بها، ومع ذلك كنت أشعر أنني أعرفها جيداً، فهي واختها لبنى من أكثر الأصدقاء قرباً لإبنتي أخي سارة وهبة. لسنوات طويلة واسمهما يتردد في محيط أسرتنا، وقصصهما تتداخل وتتقاطع مع قصص وحياة سارة وهبة، حتى أصبحت اعتبر الأربعة نسيجاً واحداً، تتعدد ألوانه وأشكاله ولكن تربطه خيوط  قوية ومتينة من الصداقة والوفاء والحب. 

أعود بذاكرتي إلى تلك اللحظة حينما كنت أتأملها وهي جالسة في حديقة المنزل، لها ابتسامة تحتوى عالم بأسره من الدفء والمحبة، وضحكة آتية من أعماق البهجة، وعيون تلمع بالذكاء وخفة الظل.  كانت تتطلع إلى السماء أملاً في أن تبرز الشمس لتدثر بدفئها. وجاءت اللحظة حينما تسللت أشاعتها من وراء السحب لتسطع للحظات وتفيض علينا بعباءة من الدفء.  أغمضت منى  عينيها ومالت رأسها إلى الوراء وهي تستقبل هدية السماء. كان وجهها يملؤه السكينه والهدوء رغم ميوله إلى الشحوب.  رفعت القبعة من على رأسها لتظهر من تحتها رأساً مستديرة أستدارة كاملة تكاد تخلو من الشعر باستثناء بعض الشعيرات المتناثرة. مرت بيدها على رأسها وهي تتحسسها برفق وابتسامتها الهادئة تزين وجهها.  تأملتها وأنا اتعجب لهذه الفتاة التي لم تخجل من الجلوس أمام الجميع بلا شعر، فتاة جاءت إلينا بابتسماتها وبهجتها رغم  مرض شرس ينوء به الرجال. في هذه اللحظة الفارقة تراجع شعوري بالعطف والشفقة  ليحل محله إحساساً بالإعجاب والاحترام، وهو إحساس  زاد على مدار الشهور اللاحقة وأنا أتابع رحلة معاناتها وصراعها مع المرض.

اكتشفت منى حالتها وهي تتأهب للسفر لإستكمال دراستها العليا بالخارج بعد أن نالت منحة دراسية بفضل تفوقها العلمي.  ورغم تماثلها للشفاء في بداية رحلة العلاج، عاد المرض ليهاجمها مرة تلو الأخرى لتبدأ معه رحلة طويلة مع الأطباء والمستشفيات والعلاجات في الداخل والخارج.

طوال هذه الرحلة لم تفارقها ابتسامتها، بل كانت سلاحها الذي ترفعه في وجه عدو لدود يحاول الفتك بها. تعجب الأطباء من صمودها الطويل رغم جرعات العلاج الكيماوي المتكررة وشراسة المرض.  راوغت منى عدوها، وكلما حاول جرها إلى هاويته السحيقة أدارت له ظهرها وركضت نحو الحياة بقوة ابتسامتها وتفاؤلها، متسلحة بحب ومحبة من حولها من الأهل والأصدقاء والأحباء. أختارت أن تعيش الحياة بأمل حتى في غياب الأمل...أن تقتنص لحظات للفرح والحب رغم وهن وآلام جسدها...أن تمنح من حولها بعض من قوتها وبهجتها لكي يتحملوا لحظة الفراق التي كانت آتية لا ريب فيها...

وقد جاءت هذه اللحظة في يوم من أيام الربيع من العام 2012 ، لترحل عنا صاحبة الابتسامة الجميلة المفعمة بالحياة، تاركة وراءها ذكرى بهجتها وقوتها وعشقها للحياة ساكنة في أعماق كل من عرفها وأحبها.

Friday, January 25, 2013

من مذكرات ثورة مصرية: فلا خوف في الميدان

الأول من فبراير 2011

تعبر سيارة التاكسي البيضاء ميدان الإسماعيلية بمصر الجديدة متجهة نحو طريق صلاح سالم. المحلات مغلقة والشوارع تكاد تخلو من المارة والسيارات.

"الناس خايفة تنزل...اصل النهاردة حيخلصوا عليهم "، هكذا قال السائق.

أصمت وأتذكر حواري صباح اليوم مع جارنا لدى خروجي من المنزل وهو يقول:
 "حيضربوهم بيد من حديد...هيولعوا الميدان...كفاية كدة...الموضوع لازم يخلص".

اشعر بقدر من التوجس والخوف مع اقتراب التاكسي  من كوبري 6 أكتوبر. اليوم الثلاثاء الأول من فبراير، أول مليونية يعلنها الثائرون في أنحاء البلاد والمعتصمون في ميدان التحرير، وأول يوم أنزل فيه إلى "الثورة"...إلى "الميدان"...ذلك الفضاء مترامي الأطراف الذي اعتدنا نحن أهل القاهرة أن نعبره مئات بل آلاف المرات سواء لقضاء أمر من الأمور في مجمع التحرير أو للتسوق في وسط البلد أو للعبور من غرب القاهرة إلى شرقها والعكس أو غيرها من الأغراض. 

قلبي يخفق والتاكسي يطير فوق كوبر 6 أكتوبر ويقترب من الميدان. الأفكار والشكوك الهواجس تتزاحم داخل رأسي:

"يا ترى حنحصل المليون ولا الناس حتخاف تنزل....يا ترى الجيش حيضرب علينا زي ما بيقولو ولا حيسبونا زي ما وعدوا...يا ترى...يا ترى....يا ترى....."

يصل التاكسي إلى منزل كوبري 6 اكتوبر المؤدي إلى ميدان عبد المنعم رياض. أفاجأ بطابور طويل من السيارات الواقفة فوق الكوبري وبعدد كبير من الرجال والنساء بل والأطفال تنزل مترجلة من فوق الكوبري باتجاه الميدان.  يزداد قلبي أطمائناناُ وثقة...وأشعر بالدفء وأنا أتأمل ملامح الإقدام والحماسة على الوجوه المتجهة صوب الميدان.

أول ما يقابلني لدى خروجي من التاكسي تلك الرائحة النفاذة...الرائحة المتخلفة عن الحرائق. أرى عن بعد الواجهة السوداء لمبني الحزب الوطني بعد أن التهمته النيران. أعبر أول حاجز للجيش وأرى عربات الأمن المركزي المحروقة والمدمرة والمح عبارة مكتوبة على إحداها:"دي نهاية الظلم"...اشعر بالذهول...هل هذه القاهرة؟؟ هل ثارت مصر أخيراً؟؟ هل انتفض شعبها حقا؟؟ لم تحرق سوى رموز النظام من مكاتب ومقرات الحزب و رموز القمع وانتهاك حقوق الانسان المتمثلة في أقسام الشرطة وعربات الأمن المركزي...حريق اقرب لطقوس التطهر والميلاد من جديد.

أقف في الطابور أمام حاجز ثاني، الجميع يقفون في هدوء وانتظام دون تبرم أو شكوى في أنتظار دورهم للتفتيش من قبل جنود القوات المسلحة وعناصر اللجان الشعبية. المح عبارة مكتوبة على أحد الجدارن اسفل كبري 6 اكتوبر: "لا لقانون الأسرة لا لقوانين سوزان" ، تقلقني هذه العبارة، أدرك أن هناك صراع يلوم في الأفق بين قوى تسعي نحو التحرر والتقدم والمساواة وقوى أخرى شديدة المحافظة  تسعى نحو الجمود والتمييز والإقصاء...ولكن حتى الآن الجميع يد واحدة.

تطئ قدماي أرض الميدان لأجد نفسي وسط بحر من البشر، هل أنا في حلم أم في علم؟؟  تعود ذاكرتي إلى عام 2003 إبان العدوان الأمريكي على العراق حينما اتنفض المصريين ليحتل ما بين 20 إلى 30 ألف منهم ميدان التحرير لأول مرة منذ مظاهرات الطلبة في السبعينات من القرن العشرين، هي لحظة شهدت فيها بنفسي انسحاب أفراد وضباط الشرطة من الميدان والذعر في عيونهم إزاء هذه الجموع الغفيرة وهتافاتهم الغاضبة، فلم تزد أي مظاهرة حتى ذلك الحين عن ثلاثة ألاف متظاهر في أحسن الأحوال ولم تزد بعد ذلك  أيضا  عن هذا العدد عقب ربيع القاهرة القصير عام 2003.

أما الآن، فتكاد الدموع تذرف من عيناي وأنا أشاهد هذا التجمع المليوني، تجمع احتفالي أقرب إلى الكرنفال. أري مصر بأكملها في الميدان، بشرائحها وطبقاتها وديانتها  وتيارتها السياسية المختلفة، برجالها ونسائها بل وأطفالها وشيوخها أيضا. 

أشق طريقي بصعوبة باتجاه كبري قصر النيل حيث سالتقي رفاق الميدان. أعبر تجمعات المتظاهرين العديدة التي ترفع الشعارات المبتكرة والمذهلة...من أين جاء كل هذا الابداع؟؟ تثلج هتافاتهم صدري وتتدافع المشاعر بداخلي وأنا أرى الآلاف من أعلام بلادي ترفرف في سماء القاهرة. استغرب نقاء الهواء وخلوه من رائحة عوادم السيارت والأتربة والقمامة التي اعتدنا عليها في القاهرة...هواء نقي طاهر ينعش النفس والروح.

أصل إلى مدخل كبري قصر النيل حيث التقي برفاق الميدان، افاجأ بزميلة سابقة في العمل لم أراها منذ 20 عاما جاءت مع بناتها للإنضمام للمليونية، أري كاتب ومفكر كبير السن جاء مع زوجته يتساندان على بعضهما البعض ليكونا مع الثائرين، سيدة ستينية أنيقة تقف بشعرها الفضي القصير وتقول "أنا جيت بس عشان أكمل المليون"، فتاة منقبة أرى حماسها عبر نقابها تهتف بعزم "لازم يرحل".  نقف معا والفرحة والأمل تملئ عيوننا، ننظر صوب السماء ببعض التوجس للطائرة الهليكوبتر العسكرية التي تحوم فوق الميدان ولكن نستعيد الطمأنينة عند سماع هدير التحدي من حناجر المحتشدين...لا خوف في الميدان. تأتينا مكالمات عبر الموبيلات تحذرنا أن هناك أنباء أكيدة أن "الميدان حينضرب في أي لحظة ولازم تمشوا"، ننظر إلى بعضنا البعض في قلق ثم ننظر حولنا لنري العزيمة والإصرار في عيون الثائرين.. نستعيد ثقتنا ونبقى ثابتين...فلا خوف في الميدان.

مع اقتراب موعد حظر التجوال نخرج من التحرير باتجاه كبري قصر النيل لنفاجأ بآلاف القادمين الجدد للإنضمام للمليونية والمعتصمين في تحد صارخ للحظر. نسير عبر الكبري مستظلين بشمس فبراير الدافئة، متذكرين أنه منذ أيام قليلة فقط شهد هذا الكبري مواجهات دامية بين الشرطة والمتظاهرين وسقوط شهداء ومصابين من المتظاهرين المتوجهين إلى ميدان التحرير. نقف لحظات بجوار اسدي قصر النيل من ناحية الزمالك لنلقي نظرة أخيرة على المشهد/الحلم للجموع المتجهة نحو الميدان وفي الخلفية تقف الواجهة المحترقة لمقر الحزب الوطني، اشبه ببقايا ديناصور...تلك الكائنات كبيرة الحجم صغيرة العقل التي انقرضت لهذا السبب.

نسير بخفة تحملنا آمالنا وأحلامنا...منتعشين بنسمات شتوية رقيقة تأتينا عبر النيل ممزوجة بروائح الميدان...روائح التطهر والنقاء والجسارة.

الثاني عشر من فبراير 2011

يوم ما بعد التنحي...ادخل ميدان التحرير من ناحية شارع محمد محمود بجوار الجامعة الأمريكية،. أفاجأ بغابة من المقشات وأدوات التنظيف يحملها الآلاف من الشباب وبعمليات كنس للشوارع ودهان للأرصفة ومسح وغسيل للجدران والأسوار جارية على قدم وساق، فاليوم لتنظيف الميدان عقب أول إنجاز حققته الثورة برحيل الرئيس المخلوع. رائحة الفنيك والمطهرات تملئ هواء الميدان، عملية تنظيف وغسيل فعلية ولكنها شديدة الرمزية...التطهر بالماء عقب التطهر بالنار، كنس وغسل القديم الفاسد لاستقبال الجديد الطاهر.

اجواء البهجة والانتصار تملئ المكان وهتافات "ارفع رأسك أنت مصري" تعلو من كل ركن من أركان الميدان.  أراقب أفواج القادمين...شباب يرتدون تي شرتات مكتوب عليها "أنا مصري"، أري علامات الفخر والعزة والثقة على وجوه الناس، ملامح غابت عن وجوه المصريين لعقود طويلة، فالصورة النمطية للمصري السلبي الخانع الذي تنتهك كرامته ولا يثور أبدا تحطمت تماما في هذا المكان وفي ميادين مماثلة في طول مصر وعرضها...لقد استعاد المصري كرامته ووطنه.

 أري رجل ستيني يدخل الميدان ثم يلتقط ورقة من الأرض ويسرع بالقائها في كيس قمامة يحمله رجل آخر، أري أم تدخل الميدان مع أبناءها الصغار وهي تحذرهم بحزم وشدة "أوعى واحد فيكم يرمي ورقة في الأرض"... كلمات لم أكن أتصور أن أسمعها في قاهرة المعز وفي قلب ميدان التحرير. أصبح لهذاالمكان في تلك اللحظة مهابة وجلالة بل مسحة من القداسة...فضاء طاهر لا يجوز انتهاكه بأي شكل من الأشكال، فكفاح ونضالات وتضحيات الشعوب هي التي تضفي القيمة والمعنى على الأمكنة.

أطوف الميدان وأشاهد عمليات فك الخيام في منطقة الصنية أو "الكعكة الحجرية" بلغة جيل السبعينات الذين احتلوا نفس هذا الميدان منذ 38 عاما مضت. تحتدم النقاشات وتختلف الآراء، فرغم الفرح ونشوة الانتصار هناك مخاوف وتوجسات: "المطالب ما تحققتش كلها...لازم نكمل"، "مش عاوزين حكم عسكري"، "ندي المجلس فرصة وبعدين نشوف نعمل ايه"، "الناس تعبت وعاوزة الاستقرار والآمان".

أترك الميدان وأسير مع الرفاق عبر كبري قصر النيل، تثيرنا مشاهد فرحة القادمين بأعلامهم وهتافاتهم وأغانيهم، نسير مبتهجين نقضم قطع البطاطا الساخنة، ولكنها بهجة يشوبها القلق والترقب، فماذا بعد؟  نزيح الهموم جانبا فاليوم يوم احتفال وفرحة، تنعشنا نسمات شتوية رقيقة  تأتينا عبر النيل ممزوجة بروائح الميدان...روائح التطهر والأمل والحلم بمصر جديدة.

Friday, August 17, 2012

اطلالة على حيوات أخرى...(10) Desert Encounter

“For when man ardently seeks Thy beauty
His soul will joyously go to its death from the midst of richest life”
 Inb Al-Farid  


I had never heard of Knud Holmboe nor of his travel memoires “Desert Encounter” until a friend posted a link to the memoires on Facebook.  I was first drawn by the image on its front page of a young handsome foreign man in Arab dress. Moreover, being a lover of history and travel I was further drawn by the fact that it was not only a travel memoire of “An Adventurous  Journey through North Africa”, but that its events had occurred in 1930.  But what most aroused my curiosity was what seemed to have been a very brief life of the author Knud Holombe, for under his handsome picture was the date (1902-1931) and under it the phrase: “A Martyr of Freedom of Expression”.  So who was he and what was this journey all about??

Knud Holmboe was a Danish journalist and travel writer. Son of a Danish businessman, it appears that his smug materialist middle-class life in Denmark was not compatible with his more adventurous, rebellious and reflective nature. His career in journalism quenched his thirst for travel to remote areas, taking him to Morocco, where he witnessed and wrote about the brutal French colonial war against the people of Morocco, as well as to Iraq, Turkey, Persia and the Balkans.

These travels however were paralleled with a passion for religions and philosophy and an inner quest on issues of faith and identity. At the age of twenty he embraced Catholicism and lived for a while in a monastery in France. However, still restless and searching, his travels to Morocco brought him in close contact with the Muslim population and with their faith, finally leading him to convert to Islam, a faith he believed to be “the true Christianity” and whose people “practiced in their daily life so closely to what the prophet Jesus taught”.

“Desert Encounter” is a gripping account of the journey Knud began in 1930 in his Chevrolet Model 1929 from Morocco in the west across the vast Sahara desert with a plan to reach Egypt. Reading it, one senses Knud’s deep interest in knowing and coming close to the people of these nations: “This was going to be my last day as a European…and my first day with the people I so much wanted to know and whom one can only get to know by living among them”.

His courage is evident in travelling through difficult and unknown terrain, never turning back even when his car broke down more than once, almost lost, and close to dying of thirst. But his courage and humanism are more evident in his account of the atrocities committed by colonial powers in North Africa, and primarily of the shocking treatment of the Libyan population by the Italian Fascist occupation. “In Europe one is told that the peaceful Italians in Cyrenaica have been attacked by the blood-thirsty Arabs. Only I, who have seen it, know who the barbarians are”.

Knud developed a strong sympathy and respect of the Libyan people and their struggle, describing their poor illiterate fighters as “the truest noblemen I have ever met”. However, this sympathy brought on him the wrath of the Italian occupation who finally arrested and deported him before he could complete his journey to Egypt.

When “Desert Encounter” was published in 1931 it became an instant bestseller in Denmark, in many European countries and in the USA, but it was banned in Italy and not translated into the Italian language until 2004.  In the same year Knud was killed at the age of 29 while travelling in Aqaba on his way to Mecca and it was speculated that the Italian intelligence was involved, but this was never verified.

One is often pained when a life is cut so short, especially a life so intense and promising as Knud’s life seemed to be. The only consolation is that his story is still alive 80 years after his death and his humanistic message is still reaching many across the world:

“Deep down within themselves the peoples of the East and the West are alike.  They are two branches of the same tree. And when man, regardless of whence he comes, seeks deep in his heart, he will feel the longing for the root of the tree”.